Hello from the world of Valencia, Spain everybody.
Let me tell you, it’s been a hell of a ride…so far.
Let’s begin with the flights. Specifically, the Paris airport, which is officially the worst airport of all time. Construction was everywhere, signs were virtually non-existent, and you know how you always look for that digital board with the flights listed on it? NOT THERE. Oh, they’re there, like three of them, but they’re not plastered everywhere like in every other I’ve ever been in.
For what it’s worth, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the Valencia airport, but it seemed a bit better. I dunno.
Things I’ve noticed about Spain (and probably Europe in general)
1) Everything is smaller. Hotel rooms (oh man!), cars, meal portions, etc. Everything is tiny and therefore you can fit a lot more ’stuff’ in a smaller space, but it’s pretty damn inconvenient. Like, for example, with 5 people in our group, we know that we’ll need more than 1 cab to take us where we want to go. If we all want to travel together, I guess we’re just screwed. I’ve not once seen a van or even an SUV. They just don’t exist here.
I never knew how we (as Americans) cornered the market on big, bulky cars until I got here.
2) Traffic is insane. Like, "Oh my God did you see how close we came to dying" insane. Every cab driver I’ve seen so far (about a half dozen) doesn’t think twice about cutting off people or drifting in and out of the same lane. They also don’t seem to have turn signals, or they don’t work, or they don’t care (I’m betting on the last one).
3) Currency exchange is key. Period. I’m sitting on a shitload of Traveler’s Checks that aren’t doing dick for me at the moment. I took more of those Checks than I anticipated, and it turns out NOBODY takes them. Period. All of the cool shops and restaurants take euros only, and that’s painful.
However! There was a saving grace. Today, for the first time in the history of the Pro Tour, Day 1 was cancelled.
There has to be some sweet irony in that a card game meant to play indoors is cancelled due to outside weather.
Even when they were holding one in London and there were terrorist attacks nearby, it STILL occurred.
So with Day 1 cancelled I had a chance to get my money exchanged, right? Nope. Why? Because apparently, today is a Hispanic Day. Not making that up. What does that mean? All of the banks who could exchange my traveler’s checks aren’t open. They may be open tomorrow, but tomorrow is oodles of rounds of swiss on Day 1 of the Pro Tour, meaning I won’t get back to the hotel until midnight at the earliest (that’s 6PM for those in Eastern Standard).
Okay, so I’m screwed on money but thanks to Day 1 being cancelled I did a few deck modifications and noticed that, oh yeah, I’m only playing 59 cards. Good thing I remembered that Sacred Foundry in my suitcase…which meant if I had taken it to the event like I planned on this morning, I would be shelling out 20 euro for another. Which is almost $30 for a $15 card. Ugh.
So that’s good, right? Well, sorta. Let’s backup. Where were we? Oh yeah, getting off the plane.
So I get to the site on Thursday and do some meetin’ and greetin’. I get my Pro Tour shirt (totally wearing it tomorrow) and after some shmoozing it’s time to go. Me and my new buddy Tim wander outside into the rain. We exit the HUGE facility and then get out on the street. Cars are flying by. There is no chance of catching a taxi here.
The rain gets harder. And it’s COLD.
So we’re crossing the main thoroughfare and somewhere around this time we realize we are going to have to hoof it back to the hotel. It’s about, eh, a mile away.
Then it begins to POUR rain. And still, we walk.
You know how you walk in the rain, and at some point you go from "hey, I’m wet" to "OMFG I’m SOAKED"? Yeah, we were there.
So we got back, I dried out my useless traveler’s checks, and we went to bed.
Today (I’m finishing this post late late Saturday night here) was much better. The Pro Tour was a blast, and while I didn’t do very well (3-7 record, woo), it was super fun to meet and greet. I got some good footage and hope it makes a solid show this week.
I would write more but I’m exhausted and need to get this up.